Saturday, February 13, 2010

Week Eight: Whodunnit?

Three major international broadcasters have strongly condemned Iran for its 'deliberate electronic interference' in their broadcasts. The BBC, Deutsche Welle and The Voice of America said that the jamming began on Thursday of last week as Iran marked the Thirty First anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. They said that Iran was broadcasting freely around the world while denying its own people programmes coming from outside. Earlier, the US accused Iran of using a 'near-total information blockade.' A state department spokesman said there were strong indications that the telephone network had been taken down, SMS messages blocked, and Internet communication 'throttled. Iran has attempted a near total information blockade,' PJ Crowley said. 'It is clear that the Iranian government fears its own people.' To be fair, pal, every government should. You've got the guns but we've got the numbers - as some old hippie-drug-hero once noted. Before passing out. Probably. White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs, meanwhile, said that the web giant, Google, and other Internet service providers had been 'unplugged' in Iran. I can only tell you that Keith Telly Topping has a couple of regular readers in the country and I must say I haven't noticed them popping in for their daily dose of decadent Western nonsense from The Great Telly Satan on late. Might just be that they've grown tired of photos of ladies with big breasts, of course. Perfectly possible. Reporters Without Borders says the blocking of Google's Gmail e-mail system takes the drive to control cyber-space to a new stage. But the organisation claims that most Iranian Internet users know how to sidestep censorship and access blocked websites. Well, come on them all you Tehranians, Babolians and Mashhadies, we've got a Top Telly party going down here. Correspondents say that a number of governments - notably China and Burma, as well as Iran - make strenuous efforts to block modern Internet communications among their opponents. The BBC, Deutsche Welle and The Voice of America all claimed that Iranian authorities' jamming was affecting services on the Hotbird satellite, which covers audiences across Europe and the Middle East. These include BBC Persian Television, The Voice of America Television Channel in Persian, Radio Farda and Deutsche Welle's Television and Radio services. BBC World News - the English-language channel - was also jammed. And, all this because somebody pointed out the uncanny resemblance between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Roy Keane. 'We condemn any jamming of these channels. It contravenes international agreements and is interfering with the free and open flow of international transmissions that are protected by international treaties,' the broadcasters said in a joint statement. 'The Iranian authorities are using the same satellite services to broadcast freely around the world including broadcasts in English and Arabic; at the same time they are denying their own people programmes coming from the same satellites from the rest of the world,' they added. On Thursday, a day-long security clampdown in the Iranian capital Tehran succeeded in preventing large-scale opposition protests as the nation commemorated the Islamic Revolution. The opposition turnout was dwarfed by huge crowds at the state-run celebrations in the centre of Tehran. The Mahmoud Ahmadinejad/Roy Keane gestalt entity addressed the rally, saying that Iran was now a 'nuclear state' and had produced its first stock of twenty per cent enriched uranium.

Let us move, swiftly, to the latest Top Telly Tips:

Friday 19 February
Sees the much anticipated (and much trailed) live Twenty Fifth anniversary episode of EastEnders - 8:00 BBC1. The residents of Walford are busy enjoying RIKKKKKAY and BYANNNNGKA's wedding reception, but events are moving quickly and the happy day culminates in the unmasking of Archie Mitchell's murderer.

The Bubble - 10:00 BBC2 - is a new comedy news quiz, hosted by the very excellent Davey Mitchell, which plays on the fact that some news stories are so hard to believe that you'd think they'd been made up by a bored journalist. Thus, in this show, some of them actually have. Each week three celebrity contestants are locked away in a media-free zone for four days. When they're brought out, they are shown a series of media stories. All they have to do is to identify which ones the fakes. Sounds pretty good - a kind of cross between Have I Got News For You and Call My Bluff, if you like. And the guests on the first show are top quality: Frank Skinner, Reginald D Hunter and that Goddess-like saucy minx Victoria Coren. Mitchell has revealed that he doesn't, actually, watch reality television. The comedian explained that The Bubble is nothing like Big Brother. 'I don't watch that kind of thing,' he told the Mirror. 'I have this bitter feeling that it's taking money away that could be spent on comedy shows. Hopefully there'll be a lot more comedy shows on as result of the demise of Big Brother. So that's good news.' He added: 'I also find The Weakest Link unbearable. Jeremy Kyle I can't watch and I make an absolute rule not to watch it.' Speaking about The Bubble, Mitchell suggested that the period of seclusion would be like a 'holiday' for the celebrity guests. 'I think one of the ways we hope to get panellists for the show is that the days away shouldn't be a chore,' he said. 'It's not the Big Brother house and it's not on television. 'There's a tiny bit of footage to confirm they've gone in there, but they should have a nice time being cooked for and if they've got work to get on with which doesn't involve Internet access then they can get on with it. Hopefully it should feel like a free holiday with a bit of peace and quiet for a lot of them.'

Saturday 20 February
It's the time of the year for Let's Dance for Sport Relief - 6:30 BBC1. Presenters Claudia Winkleman and the rather irksome Steve Jones introduce some of Britain's best-known comedians, sportsmen and television personalities stepping into their dancing shoes to raise money for Sport Relief, with celebrity guests offering alleged 'wit and wisdom' as they review the acts. The most popular act in a telephone vote goes straight through to the final; the panel decides which runner-up joins them. Featuring exclusive performances from pop boy band JLS and the Sugababes.

Meanwhile, in Qi: XL - 9:15 BBC2 - Stephen Fry goes Gothic in this extended show, with help from one of Keith Telly Topping's particularly telly favourites Sue Perkins and with Jimmy Carr, Jack Dee and Alan Davies.

Sunday 21 February
Jonathan Ross hosts the annual The British Academy Film Awards - 9:00 BBC1 - from the Royal Opera House in London. The coveted gold BAFTA masks handed out at the star-studded event include best film, director, leading actor, leading actress, supporting actor and supporting actress. Nominees for 2010 include George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Carey Mulligan, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, Andy Serkis, Anne-Marie Duff and Audrey Tautou, and films include Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Inglourious Basterds, District 9 and An Education.

Monday 22 February
Married Single Other - 9:00 ITV - is a new romantic comedy drama series about three very different couples and their lives. Lillie and Eddie have been together for sixteen years and have two children. Their relationship seems perfect, but Eddie wants to get married and Lillie does not. Meanwhile, Lillie's best friend, Babs, has been married to Dickie for a decade, but his love of online gambling is driving her to breaking point. And Dickie's younger brother, Clint, is a serial womaniser who has just met Abbey - smart, beautiful and seemingly able to resist Clint's charms. An excellent cast includes The Office's Lucy Davis, Shaun Dooley, Amanda Abbington, Dean Lennox Kelly, Ralf Little and Miranda Raison from [Spooks]. So this is Cold Feet: The Next Generation by the sound of it.

Above Their Station - 9:30 - is a one-off comedy from BBC3. Okay, doesn't sound all that promising so far. On the mean streets of Vange in Essex, naive police community support officer Len falls victim of a cruel hoax perpetrated by 'proper copper' PC Preston. Meanwhile, there have been a series of bizarre thefts at the station and PCSO Kelly thinks she knows who is responsible. Fellow 'plastic policeman' Perry doesn't know who to help - Len, Kelly or retiring colleague Chester.

The Lakes - 8:00 ITV - is an observational documentary based, fairly obviously, in the Lake District. In this episode of the popular series, the regional mountain rescue team are called out in the middle of the night to rescue a family caught on the fells in awful weather, tour guide Sue Todd struggles to teach Japanese colleague, Junko, the bizarre rules of crown green bowling and we meet three brothers going head-to-head in a boating race on Windermere. Which, of course, as we all know from Qi isn't, actually, a lake in the first place.

Tuesday 23 February
There's been quite a bit of local interest oop North in Last Woman Standing - 9:00 BBC3 - due to the presence of Newcastle Natalie Smith among the competitors. This is a series in which five western athletes compete for glory against a variety of tribal champions in some remote corners of the globe. As with it's male counterpart, you always wonder whether it's going to be culturally patronising although, by and large, it manages to avoid too much crassness and can be quite entertaining. In this episode, the athletes take on the Filipino Pekiti Tirsia Kali fighting system, living in a remote martial arts training camp under the strict tutelage of the Kali Master, Rommel. Didn't he drive a tank or was that someone else? Anyway, the system can be applied to any weapon from knives to bare hands, but it is the metre-long stick that the Brits will be battling with, as they prepare to face Master Rommel's best students in a final knockout contest.

One of the most anticipated dramas of the year so far is On Expenses - 9:00 BBC4. This concerns the American journalist Heather Brooke's fight for the disclosure of MPs expenses under the Freedom of Information Act which, of course, resulted in one of the defining political scandals of the decade and the final confirmation of what many of us had long suspected. That All Politicians Are Scum. A terrific cast includes Anna Maxwell Martin, Brian Cox, Tim Pigott-Smith, David Calder and Christopher Good.

Tonight's Holby City - 8:00 BBC1 - sees Thandie's reunion with her estranged brother, Moses, cut short when he asks her to help him to die. He is terminally ill, but her actions could mean her marriage to Ric is over. Elsewhere, Maria is upset to learn that George is not the man she hoped for - rather he is bisexual and, as a consequence, the man/woman she hoped for. Or not. And, Joseph and Faye's relationship hits another low when she spurns his kiss at the end of the day. That's pretty much Patsy Kensit's story off and on the screen, isn't it?

Wednesday 24 February
As mentioned last time around MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1 - is back. And - some queer scheduling by the BBC, aside - is still looking good. John Torode and Gregg Wallace continue their search for the country's best amateur cook. Twelve contestants face three high-pressure tests to see who will make it to the quarter finals. In the first heat of this week, contestants must face the pressure of the professional kitchen at 1901 in the City of London and in the second they have to master modern Italian cuisine at Bar Trattoria Semplice in Mayfair. Only the best will make it through, taking them one step closer to becoming the next MasterChef.

Yellowstone - 7:00 BBC2 - is a repeat of one of last year's nature highlights from the BBC. A series following the fortunes of America's wildlife icons in Yellowstone, the most extensive thermal area on Earth. In winter, Yellowstone is frozen solid - locked in snow as deep as a house for over six months. While the herds of elk and bison are gradually weakened by the cold, the park's wolves grow stronger. So, that's Bison 0, Wolves 3 by the sound of it. But, with one of the world's largest volcanoes beneath the surface, everything from the freezing cold to the creation of a snow storm is determined by the power at Yellowstone's heart. There's a bit in this episode involving an arctic fox gently tip-toeing over the snow listening for movement beneath. Stopping. Arching its back and diving head first into the snow, emerging a moment later with a mouse in its mouth that is one of the most genuinely thrilling bits of wildlife television ever.

From the sublime, to the ridiculous. Dogs in Frocks - 8:00 Sky1 - is a documentary that goes behind the scenes at Santa Barbara's annual Big Dog Parade. Huge crowds line the streets to witness over one thousand dogs in zany costumes marching along with their owners to the tune of a brass band. Are they barking mad, or is it just puppy love? Yer Keith Telly Topping has, actually, been to Santa Barbara dear blog reader. And he bought a very nice suede jacket there. from a shop called, not expectedly, Big Dog.

Thursday 25 February
In light of the recent icy weather in the UK, which has led to a surge in legal cases against local councils, Cutting Edge examines Britain's multi-billion pound personal injury industry in Scams, Claims and Compensation Games - 9:00 Channel 4. Have you been injured at work? Have you been bellowed at by a fat man with a ratty moustache in an advert on afternoon TV about being injured at work? Have you been harangued by him out of EastEnders in that those annoying Injury Lawyer 4U adverts? Have you, like Armstrong and Miller, been injured whilst reconstructing an injury for an personal injury claims adverts? Following real-life cases as they unfold, this programme tries to uncover the real winners and losers in the nation's burgeoning compensation culture.

British Columbia: Canada's Olympic Wilderness - 8:00 BBC2 - sees Graham Bell and Ed Leigh journey southwards through the frozen province of British Columbia, towards the home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Vancouver. En route, they travel through a series of remote communities which are completely cut off from civilisation throughout the winter, learning how the locals survive off the land. Leigh and Bell experience this harsh life for themselves alongside miners, loggers and hunters, and find out what it is like to function and work in such bone-chilling and dangerous conditions.

And finally, Channel 4's cult cookery-based reality show, Come Dine with Me: Extra Portions - 5:30. In this, chefs compete for the title of 'Ultimate Dinner Host.' Lyndsey Halligan is the final competitor in Liverpool, and is keen to prove to her guests that she is not a blond bimbo.

And, so to the news: Channel 4 has secured comedians of the calibre of Bill Bailey, Michael McIntyre and Jack Dee for a live special to be filmed at London's 02 Arena. Open Mike Productions, the comedy specialist behind Live at the Apollo, is producing the two-hour show, Channel 4's Comedy Gala, which is being staged in aid of the Great Ormond Street Hospital children's charity. Sister company Off the Kerb Productions will promote the event. Channel 4 names such as Alan Carr and Fonejacker star Kayvan Novak will also appear, alongside Jonathan Ross, Jo Brand, Lee Evans, David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Sean Lock and Shappi Khorsandi. Theatrical dance act Stomp will also perform. Ross' agent, Addison Cresswell, will executive produce alongside Andrew Beint. Channel 4 head of entertainment, Justin Gorman, said: 'We're incredibly proud of the talent we have on the channel. We are very pleased that so many other comedians and celebrities are joining us for what we fully intend to be the comedy event of the year.' The event will take place in early April and will be screened in full on Channel 4 later.

Jamie and Louise Redknapp's advertising campaign for Thomas Cook has reportedly increased the company's holiday bookings by fifteen per cent. The travel operator credited the celebrity couple with helping to promote its 'higher margin, medium haul' destinations in its summer deals. Despite reporting a loss before tax of over eighty million pounds for the October to December period, the company is reportedly 'confident' about meeting its full-year targets. According to the BBC, the firm normally secures the majority of its profits in the summer months - fairly obviously. 'I think the worst is behind us. However, I'm not sure there's going to be a tremendous bounce back this year. I think it will be a fairly good year but I don't think it's boom time,' group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said.

The Silurians will appear in the next series of Doctor Who. The Sun reports that fans of the programme urged new showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat to bring back the lizard creatures. Yer Keith Telly Topping reports, for the Sun's benefit, that The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat does not do anything that The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat doesn't want to. So, if any dark and sinister corner of fandom is thinking about starting a 'bring by The Mandrils' campaign, save yer breath kids. The Silurians were first seen trying to spread a virus to destroy mankind but were thwarted by lisping Jon Pertwee in 1970. Their last appearance was in 1984 when Peter Davison was forced to slaughter them and their Sea Devil allies with some handy cannisters of hexachromite gas. And then mutter sadly about how there 'should have been another way.' No bloody stomach for the war, the fifth Doctor, that was always his problem. Neve McIntosh, who has been cast as twin monsters, revealed that she is watching old episodes to try to understand the creatures. Speaking about the new Silurians, she explained: 'They're one of the Silurian tribes that have been undisturbed under the earth. And of course we get disturbed.' Hopefully this time around their voices won't resemble a fat man blowing bubbles. There are also strong rumours circulating fandom that the Zygons may return too during the forthcoming series. The shape-changing aliens were last seen in 1975 when Tom Baker gave then, and their crap Loch Ness Monster, a damned good shoeing.

Robert Popper's semi-autobiographical E4 sitcom pilot Friday Night Dinner has been picked up for a full series on Channel 4. The pilot episode starred The Inbetweeners' Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal as brothers who go to their parents' house for a Friday night dinner. Channel 4 comedy and entertainment commissioning editor Darren Smith has now given the green light to Popper's production company and Big Talk Productions to make a full six-part series to for braodcast in late 2011. This is the first commission for Popper's company, with which Big Talk has a 'first-look' deal. Bird and Rosenthal have signed up for the series alongside Tamsein Greig and Paul Ritter as their parents and Mark Heap as a neighbour. It will be directed by The League of Gentlemen director Steve Bendelack, whose credits also include BBC4 sketch show Cowards and episodes of The Royle Family. Popper is, of course, best known for his partnership with Peter Serafinowicz on shows such as Look Around You. He is a former Peep Show producer and Channel 4 commissioning editor.

Jodie Kidd 'accidentally' swore on breakfast radio on Thursday morning according to reports. The model was appearing on Johnny Vaughan's Capital FM show to stand in for his usual co-host, Lisa Snowdon. However, the Sun claims that Kidd was welcoming listeners to the programme when she made a timing mistake. As the opening jingle played, she was heard to say: 'Good... fuck off. Oops.' Ke$ha's song 'Tik Tok' immediately began to play and Vaughan later apologised for the naughty word. 'Massive apologies if you heard some bad language a couple of minutes ago,' he said. 'We had a technical problem in which some microphones were up and down and it was a technical problem. You heard something on air you shouldn't have done. We are profoundly sorry. Sorry if you were offended, we apologise.' Translation: 'Hell, I don't wanna lose my job. Please, it wasn't my fault, I never done nothing, me.' Etcetera.

A new television programme showing how antiques can be discovered and provide an alternative to high street goods has been commissioned by the BBC. Interior designer Kathryn Rayward and antiques expert Mark Hill will present Cracking Antiques, which focuses on investing in second-hand, vintage and antique furnishings on a budget. Kathryn will suggest how to revamp distressed antiques to be suitable in a modern home, while Mark will offer advice on what items to buy that may go up in value in the future. Mark said: 'Antiques need to be taken off their pedestal and we should allow them to become exuberant and enjoyable parts of our lives.' Cracking Antiques will be a Silver River production and will be broadcast during prime-time on BBC2 in Spring 2010.

The media and entertainment trade union Bectu has denounced ITV's 'fat cat culture at board level,' criticising moves to give a multi-million pound salary package to incoming chief executive Adam Crozier whilst, simultaneously, freezing staff pay levels. In December, staff were told that they would not receive a pay rise, but instead were given an extra day's leave over Christmas and company shares valued at three hundred and forty pounds. Employees will also receive a bonus of up to twelve hundred pounds if ITV meets certain performance targets by the end of the financial year. But supervisory official David Beevers said: 'There is no victory on staff pay at ITV this year. A bonus is all well and good but the fact that it is not consolidated means that there is no lasting reward for staff efforts; we believe that lasting reward continues to be relevant for our members, even in a recession.' An ITV spokesman said: 'Details of the 2010 pay review, including a share award and company-wide bonus scheme, were announced to ITV staff in early December.' Yes, we know that. Would you like to tell us anything else we alrerady know? Like what happened on last week's Corrie, for instance? ITV's new chief executive Adam Crozier is expected to be on a salary and bonus package of around fifteen million pounds when he joins the commercial broadcaster later this year.

X Factor host Dermot O'Dreary is to host a special edition of Question Time in a bid to engage young people with politics, ahead of this year's general election. O'Dreary will host First Time Voters' Question Time on BBC3, to be broadcast on 3 March. The audience of first-time voters will question a panel of representatives from 'the main political parties.' The programme is part of a package of BBC3 shows aimed at bringing politics to sixteen to thirty four-year-olds. The names of the politicians taking part in the special edition of Question Time - which is normally fronted on BBC1 by David Dimbleby - will be finalised nearer the time. O'Dreary, best known from fronting the talent show The X Factor, Big Brother's Little Brother and for his show on BBC Radio 2, revealed last month he had been in discussions with the corporation to present a political programme in the run up to the general election. Although a date for the election has yet to be announced, it is being widely tipped for 6 May. Danny Cohen, controller of BBC3, said that the channel 'has a unique role to play as the only youth-targeted British television channel with a regular and passionate commitment to current affairs. We have exciting plans to cover the build-up to the general election, and are keen to engage young people who may not typically watch political coverage. We're delighted to have Dermot O'Leary as our host for this programme. He is passionate about politics and hugely popular with young people.'

Future, the specialist publishing group, is launching The Gadget Show Magazine, which will be an extension of the Five popular technology consumer TV show. The title is initially being trialled as a one-off to gauge interest and has been created in partnership with Five and the series' producer North One Television. The Gadget Show Magazine goes on sale in newsagents on 8 April, with a cover price of five quid. The one hundred and thirty two-page title will feature contributions from The Gadget Show team, including hosts Jason Bradbury, the awesomely divine Suzi Perry, Jon Bentley and Ortis Deeley. The title is the first magazine created for the TV programme. Other brand extensions for the show include The Gadget Show Live, sponsored by PC World, Sony and Future’s technology lifestyle magazine, T3.

Cat Deeley has said that she is hopeful the BBC will re-commission So You Think You Can Dance. The TV presenter admitted that she had been 'having a ball' working on the UK version of the show, which has drawn around five millions viewers each week. 'We're waiting to see if it's going to be re-commissioned. I think they'll see how the final goes,' she told the BBC. 'There's always a bit of trepidation about how the show is being received but it's been doing really good business.' Deeley has hosted six series of the dance reality show in America. When asked if she would definitely return for the second run, she said: 'It depends on when it is - there's a little thing called the Atlantic in the middle of us! It would be lovely to be asked to do it again.' Charlie Bruce, Tommy Franzén and Lizzie Gough will compete for the one hundred thousand pound prize money in this weekend's live final.

Heather Mills has asked her Twitter followers to help her as she tries to come up with ideas for a new TV show. Mills recently announced that she wants to launch a programme which would see celebrities living with disabilities for a week. It is to be hoped, of course, that anyone who does come up with a good idea for Heather to pitch will be paid for their efforts. After all, the lass isn't short of a bob or two.

A row over the last packet of peanuts in a working men's club triggered a street fight involving fifty people according to reports. Dozens of police officers had to be called to the scene in Tunbridge Wells and used CS gas to calm brawlers, claims Metro. The High Brooms Working Men's Club was packed with more than one hundred people when the fight broke out. 'One minute everyone was a having a great time chatting away about this and that and then two guys started arguing at the bar over a bag of dry roasted nuts,' said eye-witness Charles Greenway. 'They were telling the barman that they wanted the last bag and eventually one just lamped the other and it all kicked-off big style with half the club punching and kicking each other. It was a sad end to the night, I can tell you.' The fight spilled out into the street, prompting dozens of neighbours of the club to call police. Police confirmed about fifty people were involved in the brawl. Seven men, aged between eighteen and forty nine, were arrested on suspicion of committing public order offences. Five have been bailed and two have been issued with fixed penalty notices. A spokeswoman said: 'Officers used incapacitant spray when making the arrests in order to subdue those believed to be involved.'

Rachel Uchitel has reportedly landed a job as a television presenter. The 'hostess' shot to infamy last year after being named as one of Tiger Woods' alleged mistresses. Us Weekly magazine reports that Uchitel will now join the syndicated entertainment show Extra as a correspondent. A representative for the show said: 'A very special edition of The Hot List airs this coming weekend on Extra Weekend, including Rachel Uchitel as Extra's ultimate insider, who will report on what's hot in Hollywood on this week's episode.' Her special qualifications for this role, you may ask? The representative wouldn't be drawn on the matter. Last month, Uchitel denied rumours that she 'partied' with Woods in Palm Beach.

1 comment:

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